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Management Article in Top 50

UC Riverside Management Article Cited Among Top 50 of 2003

Business Reviewer Cites Article on Hypercompetition One of Best in Management

(September 9, 2004)

Gerry McNamara

Gerry McNamara

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — — The Emerald Management Review has listed among its top 50 articles of 2003 a paper by Gerry McNamara, an associate professor of strategic management at the University of California, Riverside’s A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management.

Titled “Same as it Ever Was: The Search for Evidence of Increasing Hypercompetition,” McNamara’s paper appeared in the March 2003 edition of Strategic Management Journal, and examines the popular perception that the business landscape has become increasingly competitive in a broad range of industries during the 1980s and 1990s.

Emerald Management Reviews, a corporation that reviews and abstracts academic business publications, is affiliated with Emerald, a publisher of a wide range of management journals and library and information journals. Strategic Management Journal is not in Emerald’s publishing portfolio.

“We were greatly honored to receive this recognition,” said McNamara of the citation he shares with colleagues at Tufts and Central Michigan universities. “The editors at Emerald read, abstract, and review all articles in a wide range of academic journals in all business disciplines, more than 17,000 articles a year in total. To have an article that I co-authored identified as one of the top 50 articles published in a given year was a very surprising, yet gratifying honor.”

McNamara collaborated on the article with Paul M. Vaaler at Tufts University, and Cynthia Devers of Central Michigan University. They analyzed industry and business performance patterns from a broad range of firms from 1978 to 1997. They found that although indicators suggested markets became slightly more hypercompetitive from the late 1970s to the late 1980s, the trend reversed from the late 1980s to the mid 1990s.

“For practice, our results suggest that managers today face markets no more dynamic and opportunities to gain and sustain competitive advantage no more challenging than in the past,” McNamara wrote. “Accordingly, they should continue developing a portfolio of skills to manage business whether conditions are increasingly stable or unstable.”

The study calls into question the need for the new theories developed and promoted by proponents of the hypercompetitive view on how corporations should respond to, and seize, opportunities in these supposedly increasingly dynamic markets. It therefore cautions management academics and practicing managers to reconsider their views that business models are needed to fit this “new competitive environment,” since the markets in question were no more dynamic now than they were in the past.

So why is there a mismatch between perception and the study’s findings? Part of it could be explained by focus of previous studies on anecdotal examples or examination of shorter time periods, which would suggest growing competition, while a broader sample from a wider time frame revealed a different picture. Another possible explanation, according to the study, may have something to do with “hindsight bias,” or the propensity to see the past as more stable since the ultimate outcome is known, while similar conditions today seem less predictable or stable because of the uncertainty of future outcomes.

Among the suggestions of the study, according to the authors, are to caution researchers against assuming that competitive trends are constantly increasing, and that theoretical business perspectives will continue to diversify.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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